Month: July 2019


Why Bitcoin’s bubble might not burst just yet

OK, we can all see it: bitcoin looks a lot like a bubble. It stinks of irrational exuberance: it is incredibly volatile, and not only does its price continue to increase, but it is doing so at ever accelerating rates.
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It took 1789 days for bitcoin to go from nothing to $US1000. Then 1271 days to get from $US1000 to $US2000, and just 13 days to jump from $US6000 to $US7000, its latest milestone.

Individuals are selling their houses and giving up their life savings to put everything into bitcoin, seemingly more out of speculation that its price will continue to rise than because of any serious belief in its intrinsic value.

Many of the characteristics of a classic bubble – the fact that everybody is talking about it, extreme predictions about its future price, and the parabolic price curve – appear to apply to bitcoin.

For the record, I have no idea where bitcoin’s price is going to go, and in no way do I endorse it. It is very possible – likely, even – to believe this craze won’t last. But is the only way down? There are reasons to think not. Everybody thinks it’s a bubble

When a lot of bubbles pop – the real estate crash of 2007, or the dotcom crisis of 2000 – the aftermath is often characterised by complaints that nobody saw it coming.

But there is a cacophony of senior figures in the finance industry – including JP Morgan’s chairman and chief executive Jamie Dimon, Tidjane Thiam, the boss of Credit Suisse and the much-followed veteran investor Warren Buffett – warning that bitcoin is a “fraud”, “the very definition of a bubble” and “doesn’t make sense”.

This isn’t a situation where there are no safety warnings, almost everybody who people would usually listen to on this stuff say bitcoin’s out of control. And yet, people are willing to ignore them. If nothing else, it suggests that the market is not easily spooked. It’s all a matter of timing

Bitcoin has been called a bubble for most of its lifetime. In 2011, when it dropped from a measly $US33 to $US2.51, The Economist noted that “the currency’s rise was the result of a speculative bubble”.

The arguments advanced against it were eerily similar to those now. The same happened in 2013, when it peaked at slightly over $US1000 – a seventh of where it is today.

Bitcoin has crashed before, in 2011 and 2013, but on both occasions, its price rapidly rose again. Looking back, you can hardly say now that it was a case of the bubble bursting.

One can argue it’s only a matter of time, but on a long enough timescale, so is everything.

Kodak had a long and illustrious run before it went bust in 2012 – was it in a century-long camera bubble?

The total value of bitcoin, around $US100 billion, is tiny compared with other assets, so it might run for some time yet.

Indeed, the floodgates are only just opening to institutional cash. There is some value to it

Critics of bitcoin say that apart from wild price swings and speculation, there’s nothing to it: it’s not a great way to pay for things, for example.

But it isn’t exactly useless. The blockchain technology that underpins it is (at least in theory) useful for all kinds of things. Its decentralised nature makes the currency itself nearly unhackable.

And “initial coin offerings”, a way for companies to raise funds using cryptocurrencies, do have some benefits (albeit a series of scams, hacks and raised eyebrows have not enhanced their reputations).

Admittedly these are uses for blockchain and cryptocurrency in general – not bitcoin – but as the best known and original implementation of the tech, it has the position of being a barometer for the rest of the industry. Believe it or not, it is more stable than other assets

Bitcoin might look like nonsense compared to the (relative) stability of the US dollar or the British pound. But this isn’t the case everywhere.

Google suggests that the countries with some of the most interest in bitcoin are Bolivia, Columbia, Nigeria, Slovenia and South Africa – countries that have been hit by inflation, falling currency values or expensive money transfer services.

For many people in these countries, bitcoin may represent a safer, more stable and more convenient store of value than local currencies.

The Daily Telegraph, London

18/07/2019 0

Taylor backs Wade and Maxwell for first Test

Former n captain Mark Taylor is backing both Matthew Wade and Glenn Maxwell to be selected by for the first Test of the Ashes series at the Gabba in a fortnight’s time.
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The battle for the wicketkeeper spot appears to be a four-horse race between Wade, Peter Nevill, Tim Paine and Alex Carey.

Wade, who is ‘s incumbent Test keeper, has been criticised for his glove work in recent times.

However, Taylor believes the 29-year-old has improved enough to warrant another chance in Brisbane against England.

“I watched quite a bit of the Indian series that played in during the winter months and there’s no doubt in my mind that Matthew Wade did improve as a keeper, but it’s tough over there,” Taylor told SEN on Friday.

“I haven’t seen the blokes in recent times but if Matthew Wade has improved his keeping, which he did a little bit in India, well then I think he’s the man for the job. But the selectors see more of the game than me. If they don’t think he’s the best keeper then they should get the best keeper.

“I’m a bit of a believer that the incumbent should almost lose the spot first, but I’m also a great believer that with that bowling attack, need to pick their best wicketkeeper.

“There will be some edges flying around at the Gabba and if I’m the skipper I want them hung onto. So I think if the keeper does his job and holds the catches for , or the stumpings from Nathan Lyon or whatever comes along, that’ll go a long way to helping win a Test match.”

Taylor also believes his theory on incumbency should apply to Maxwell when the selectors sit down and decide who should take the number six spot.

“To be totally honest I think Glenn Maxwell has got the lead-in at the moment,” he said.

“I know he hasn’t made huge runs in recent times, but he’s made a couple of 60s, he is the incumbent and I suspect if he has a reasonable Shield game over the next week or so, he’ll be the number six.”

Taylor reckons ‘s bowling attack, which consists of Mitch Starc, Pat Cummins, Josh Hazlewood and Lyon, will tilt the series in the hosts’ favour and he suspects the Aussies are more settled than the English.

“We’ve got a good pace arsenal, Nathan Lyon I think really has improved as a spin bowler so it’s always good going into a series when you know who your four bowlers are going to be. So that’s a real advantage for ,” Taylor said.

“So ‘s side is pretty well picked. So they’ve got good bowlers and a side that pretty well knows what it’s going to be going into the first Test and that’s a nice place to be.”

The same couldn’t be said for England, according to Taylor.

“There’s no doubt England have their concerns at the moment with their side but you just never know with these Ashes contests,” he said.

“England have got to find a couple of blokes to bat in that middle order and if they can uncover someone over the next three months, they’re a chance. But they’re going to have to find someone very shortly.”

Taylor conceded there was a chance star all-rounder Ben Stokes could feature for England in the Ashes if he wasn’t charged over his involvement in a late-night brawl, but he probably wouldn’t be available until the third or fourth Test.

“So between now and then, England have to play some good cricket against who seem to be getting their ducks in line so we’ve got a good series.”

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Move to salvage Trans-Pacific Partnership gathers steam on APEC sidelines

Danang, Vietnam: Trade Ministers of 11 countries have reached agreement on a pact to salvage a Pacific Rim trade deal rejected by the United States that has been lobbying for on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit.
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But several countries, including Japan and Canada, disagree on how fast the agreement should be progressed. They differed, too, on what had been agreed.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull told reporters after arriving in the Vietnamese seaside city of Danang the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement will bring together economies with a collective GDP of about $US10 trillion.

“So that is a huge market,” he said.

Mr Turnbull began lobbying hard for the TPP after arriving in Danang, telling an APEC leaders’ reception the pact “creates rules of the road to match the new economic world in which we’re living.”

“It aims at old hidden trade barriers like corruption and new ones like data protectionism,” he said.

“It works to level the playing field for non-state companies and is designed to defend and extend the freedom to explore, share and capitalise on new ideas.”

Japan’s Minister for TPP negotiations Toshimitsu Motegi described the agreement reached after days of intense negotiations in Danang as a “high standard and balanced agreement.”

“The agreement has a great significance in creating free, fair and new rules in the Asia-Pacific region where growth is robust,” he said.

However Canadian Trade Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne later said on Twitter: “Despite reports, there is no agreement in principle on TPP.”

Canadian officials have insisted Canada, the second largest economy among the TPP nations after Japan, would not be rushed into reviving the pact.

A Canadian official said ministers from different countries may have different interpretations of what ministers have agreed on.

Mexico officials said agreement had been reached but gave no details.

Mr Turnbull and leaders of the other 10 nations are tentatively scheduled to meet at APEC to discuss the proposals of ministers.

Backed by , Japan has lobbied hard to proceed with the pact that is seen as a way to counter China’s regional dominance.

US President Donald Trump, who abandoned the TPP days after taking office, is scheduled to make a keynote speech at the annual 21-member APEC talk-fest that will be carefully examined for clues as to how his “America first” mantra will guide US engagement in Pacific Rim countries.

Leaving behind escalating tensions with Opposition leader Bill Shorten over the citizenship crisis, Mr Turnbull turned to trade at APEC, saying he will be urging 20 other APEC member countries not to turn their backs on protectionism.

“The region cannot close the door to the flow of goods, services, capital and ideas,” he said.

Mr Turnbull announced a new trade agreement with Peru, one of the world’s fastest growing economics that will generate more exports, including for farmers who have been effectively shut out of the country’s market.

It will eliminate 99 per cent of tariffs that exporters face to the country.

There will be immediate duty free access for n sheep, kangaroo meat, most wine and most horticulture products, including wheat.

Trade Minister Steven Ciobo said concluding the agreement at APEC sends an important message to the world that ” embraces trade because we know it creates jobs and drives economic growth.”

Peru’s GDP is similar to that of Vietnam and its population is similar to Malaysia.

18/07/2019 0

“A couple of them didn’t make it out”: World War II veteran John Fenwick speaks of importance of Remembrance Day

A day to remember: WWII-veteran John Fenwick, who turned 96 this year, will take a moment to remember the sacrifice of friends and family on Saturday. Picture: Max Mason-HubersIt’s a day that John Fenwick thinks every young n should always recognise.
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On Saturday November 11, Remembrance Day, John will do what has been doing for decades.

He’ll head out to the Maitland RSL Sub-Branch service before taking a few solemn moments to remember the effortsof thousands of young men and women who have served in ’s armed forces –including his own, his father, his son and his mates.

“On Remembrance Day we remember those who gave the ultimate sacrifice to our country,” John, of East Maitland, toldThe Mercury.

“In my opinion it’s a good day. It’s a day whenyoung people should remember these gallant young men who gave their lives for their country.”

He’ll remember his own service, too, which included a 14-month stint in Darwin when it was a constant target forJapanese bombers.

“A couple of them didn’t make it out,” he said of mateswho lost their lives on n soil to the raids.

A special day like no other for WWII veteran John TweetFacebookA 21stbirthday at warJohn Fenwick can still remember the panic that came over Darwin every time the Japanese bombers flew over.

“Every time the moon was out, over came the Japanese,” the 96-year-old from East Maitland recalled.

He spent 14 months in Darwin during World War II, including a hectic year-long period whenthere were 65 Japanese bombing raids.

There were plenty of close calls for the 21-year-old.

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Memories of sacrifice resonateLegacy’s helping hand“The Japanese came in low flying when we were in the shower one day,” John said.

“A couple of them (his mates) didn’t make it out. They were a little late getting out of the shower.”

Thosesacrificeswill be among the many he’ll quietly commemorate on November 11, Remembrance Day.

John’s time in WWII is nestled among a long family history of service, which includes his father who fought in WWI and his son who served in Vietnam.

His father, an Englishman who moved to to work in a Kurri coalmine, signed up to the n war effort in 1916.

“My father dug tunnels under the German lines at Hill 60,” John said.

“He got gassed twice and shot once. He was never the same when he came back.”

John said he could still clearly remember sitting up in the early hours of the morningwith his father.

A day to remember: WWII veteran John Fenwick and wife Muriel met when she was working at a munitions factory in Adelaide during the war. They’ll celebrate their 74th anniversary next week. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers.

“When he came back, he couldn’t sleep,” John explained.

Those experiences pushed John to fulfilhis “life’s ambition” to help other returned soldiers.

“When I saw my Dad like that, I thought I wanted to help any other soldiers who’d come back,” he said.

He has certainly done that, racking up decades worth of service for both Legacy and the Maitland RSL Sub-Branch, where he was president for seven years.

“I feel like I’ve done my bit for the community,” he said.

“I just wanted to give back.”

He’ll give again on Saturday, laying a wreath on behalf of Legacyat the Remembrance Day ceremony held in Maitland Park.

And he’ll take a few moments to pause and reflect on the service, and sacrifice, of mates and family.

The Maitland Mercury

18/07/2019 0

Artist Trevor Dickinson releases Newcastle playing cards featuring the city’s most iconic and obscure places

Nostalgia on the cards Knows how to fold’em: Trevor Dickinson has just released a pack of cards which feature his work of Newcastle and another for Canberra. Picture: Simone de Peak
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Please be seated: Tallara Parkway bus shelter, Narrabundah, ACT. By Trevor Dickinson.

Ordinary to extraordinary: Trevor Dickinson in front of an image that featured in his Welcome to Maitland Exhibition in 2016. Picture: Simone de Peak

Big splash: Trevor Dickinson with his mural on the southern wall of Mayfield Pool in 2013. Picture: Peter Stoop

Sea patrol: Trevor Dickinson at the Nobbys breakwall, a place he was once scared to go (because of the sign) but that features in one of his most iconic drawings. Picture: Marina Neil

Beach days: Artist Trevor Dickinson and his daughters Ella and Lucy in 2011 with the artwork of an ice cream van part of the mural in the tunnel leading to Newcastle Beach which they all worked on. Picture: Phil Hearne

Still life: Trevor Dickinson’s image of the Newcastle Council building.

Say cheese: Trevor Dickinson with then mayor John Tate at a photowall at Newcastle Museum. Picture: Dean Osland

TweetFacebook Trevor Dickinson’s workRESPECTED artist and muralist Trevor Dickinson has released a pack of playing cards featuring both obscure and well-known Newcastlelocations, including business facades.

Thecards show a cross-section of Mr Dickinson’swork from the past eight years, with plenty of images that only a Novocastrian would recognise.

“This collection of drawings is really a personal portrait of Newcastle, and I love the idea that it fits into a pocket and can be easily posted around the world,” he says.

Businesses on thecards include Godfreys on King Street, Watt Street Commercial in the city, Don Beppino’s in Merewether and Gambles accountancy in Hamilton.

Mr Dickinson emigrated to Newcastle from England in 2002 with his n wife and two children. Working remotely as a freelance commercial designer on projects ranging from Star Wars to textile design work, it took him seven years to pick up a pencil and begin his quirky and oft nostalgic seriesof Newcastle images.

“I wasgetting homesick [for England] because I hadn’t connected much with Newcastle, so I started drawing Newcastle to get out of the house,” he says.

His first drawing was the infamous “Men, do it longer!” billboard on Lambton Road at Broadmeadow, and since then he’s captured iconic images such asNobbys to random scenes such as a rubbish bin in Braye Park, Waratah, not to mention his 100 letterboxes series.

While Newcastle is his favoured muse, Mr Dickinson has also released a pack of cards on Canberra, a city he’s currently focused on by drawing its iconic bus shelters, which will feature in a 2018 exhibition.

And yet at the start, he had no real inkling that his wonky line drawings would develop into his now thriving company Newcastle Productions.

“I wanted to make money from it so Icould justify stopping to take time to do it; it was just pocket money, but it was like a game. Then it just started selling,” he says.

Mr Dickinson’s works can be found athis online store, and placesincludingStudio Melt in Newcastle and the National Gallery andPortrait Gallery in Canberra.

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